The process of dialysis was invented around 1854 by a Scottish chemist named Thomas Graham, who would later become the first to employ dialysis to prolong life. The procedure was not widely used until after 1945, when Dr. Wilhelm Kolff used it to save the life of a patient in active renal failure, demonstrating that the process not only could prolong life for a short time, but could actually increase survival rates for those in renal failure. 

Most users of dialysis are patients with end-stage, irreversible renal disease that requires either dialysis or transplant for survival. Two kinds of dialysis are used: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis is generally performed three times a week in two to four hour sessions either in a dialysis center or at home, removing waste through an artificial kidney machine outside of the patient’s body. Peritoneal dialysis uses the peritoneum, a membrane in the abdomen, to remove the waste, using a procedure that can be performed at home by the patient but must be done seven days a week.